The record “Loaded” was The Velvet Underground’s desperate attempt to achieve financial success. The legendary band moved to Atlantic Records, where they were of the opinion that any album should be full of hit tracks. Hence the name “Loaded”, hinting at the abundance of potential hits. Many songs from the fourth studio work of The VU really became popular, and the composition “Sweet Jane” turned out to be the main hit.
The words and music of the work were written by Lou Reed. He was a member of The Velvet Underground until August 1970 and composed a song especially for the band’s new album.
Who is the text talking about? Was “sweet Jane” a real person? Or is it a figment of the author’s imagination? Lou Reed has been asked this question many times, but as far as I know, he always avoided direct answers.
The musician’s fans adhere to several versions of the interpretation of the main idea of ”Sweet Jane”. Some believe that they mean drugs (marijuana is called “Mary Jane” in slang). Others believe that we are talking about the Alter ego of the author. Many are haunted by the line about Jack in a corset, leading them to think about transsexuals from Andy Warhol’s entourage. And someone claims that Jane is just the embodiment of Lou Reed’s muse. In any case, the ability to interpret the meaning of “Sweet Jane” adds to the spice of the composition.
On November 15, 1970, it was released as the first and only single from The Velvet Underground’s “Loaded” album. While recording the record, Lou Reed left the band. In his absence, a loss was cut from the song.
Subsequently, the musician said that he would not be in a hurry to leave the band if he knew what they would do with the track:
I would stay with them and show them what to do.
The full version of the song was included in the live album “Live At Max’s Kansas City”, as well as various The VU compilations. Lou Reed also performed it constantly throughout his solo career.
In 2004, Lou Reed performed in Los Angeles. Before performing “Sweet Jane”, he said:
I thought I should explain to you how to make a career on three chords – then he showed the audience that the progression was completed by the fourth chord, and added. – As is often the case, it’s the little “chip” at the end.
Cover versions of “Sweet Jane” have been played by the Cowboy Junkies, The Kooks, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and other famous bands. On October 25, 2009, Lou Reed performed the song with Metallica at Madison Square Garden.
- The song is featured in several top songs rankings including 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (Rolling Stone), 100 Greatest Guitar Solos (Guitar World) and 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks (Q).
Sweet Jane lyrics by Lou Reed
Standin’ on a corner
Suitcase in my hand
Jack’s in his corset, Jane is in her vest
and me I’m in a rock ‘n’ roll band. Huh.
Riding a Stutz Bear Cat, Jim
ya know, those were different times
all the poets studied rules of verse
and those ladies they rolled their eyes
With a suitcase in hand
Jack in a corset, Jane in a vest
And I’m in a rock and roll band, ha
Riding a Stutz Bear Cat, Jim
You know, things were different back then
All poets have learned the rules of versification,
And the ladies rolled their eyes Chorus:
Sweet Jane x3
Sweet Jane – 3 times Now Jack, he is a banker
and Jane, she’s a clerk
and both of them save their monies
when they get home from work
sittin down by the fire
Ooo, the radio does play
the classical music there, Jim
The March of the Wooden Soldiers
All you protest kids
you can hear Jack say…Now about Jack, he is a banker,
And oh Jane, she’s a clerk
They both save money
And when they get home from work,
Sitting by the fireplace
Oooh, they play on the radio
Classical music, Jim
“March of the Wooden Soldiers”
All you protesters
Hear Jack say…ChorusSome people they like to go out dancin
and other people they have to work.
(Just watch me now)
and there’s even some evil mothers
Well there gonna tell you that everthing is just dirt
you know that women never really faint
and that villians always blink their eyes
that children are the only ones who blush
and that life is just to die
But anyone who ever had a heart
they wouldn’t turn around and break it
and anyone who ever played a part
They wouldn’t turn around and hate it
And someone has to work
And there are even evil mothers
You know women don’t faint
And villains always blink
That only children blush
And life only leads to death
But everyone who had a heart
Won’t try to break it
And everyone who played the part
Won’t hate herChorusChorus